LSD Is Short for Latishia’s Skull Drawing
Latishia’s Skull Drawing are hesitant to discuss their musical past. In their eyes, the hardcore of their youth came and went, but was always lurking inside them. As the members now spend much of their time playing in rock bands like the Ukiah Drag, it's impossible not to think of this manic nightmare of riffs and shrieks as something of an homage to the raging, dark hardcore that they were so excellent at making once upon a time.
The notorious Providence, Rhode Island, band was fully formed upon enlisting a vocalist from another Northeast town to record a demo that was never finished. It almost felt like a ringer situation; the vocalist really had the chops for this sort of thing, and matched the confidence and swagger of the drummer, who was prone to making statements like, “I feel in this band such a competitive edge to blow all the mediocre punk bands that we play with off the stage.” The chemistry of Latishia’s Skull Drawing is deadly.
Bassist Andrew Eaton was not able to make the interview, which took place in an apartment before a packed Friday night gig at Brooklyn’s Alphaville this past winter.
How did this band start, especially with Matt living in Philly and the rest of you being in Providence?
Tommy Conte (drums): Brian and I recorded the demo in maybe 2010.
Brian Hennessey (guitar): 2012.
TC: We recorded it with Ryan Abbot at Side Two almost about a year after we moved to Boston.
BH: Yeah, about halfway into our two years in Boston, we recorded this. Our bandmate in Cottaging, Aaron [DeMuth], was on vacation for most of the summer.
TC: We recorded this record because Aaron was out of town. Zach [Ramirez, vocalist/guitarist of the Ukiah Drag] had just moved to Boston, and we got really swept up by Ukiah Drag, and we were making stuff happen for that.
BH: It kind of got shelved. We were really into the music, but it came down to vocal stuff. I had entertained the idea of doing vocals, but it just didn't make sense. But the songs were something we were proud of.
TC: We shelved them and had talked to Matt about them.
Matt Adis (vocals): They brought it up to me probably around the time they recorded it. I expressed interest because the name, I guess, intrigued me the most. The idea of a hardcore band with Tommy and Brian interested me. The name is ridiculous, though.
What does it mean?
BH: The name draws back to our buddy Cameron.
TC: Yeah, he was an art teacher at my high school, and he taught basic art, and there was a kid named Latishia in the class, and she drew these huge skull portraits on velvet, basically. Cameron's kind of a weirdo, and was immediately attracted by this teenage girl who probably lived in the project housing behind the school and did these crazy fucking skull paintings. So, we started this stupid Public Image Ltd rip-off band when we graduated high school called Latishia's Skull Paintings, and it kind of got shelved; we practiced three times, recorded a shitty boombox recording. We started this band and we were grasping at straws to come up with something.
BH: We circulated a bunch of dumb ones back and forth.
TC: Latishia's Skull Painting was the idea, but then when we looked at the acronym, it was like, "Oh, if it's 'drawing,' it will be LSD."
And you liked the band name, Matt?
MA: I've always been interested in a lot of strange foreign hardcore bands whose names had a similar flow or were an acronym. Tommy and I had a mutual interest in Italian hardcore bands and whatnot. So, we would always bounce back and forth these goofy names for years. When I heard of the idea of this band, I was just intrigued immediately. Fast-forward like two years and my friend Matt and I booked this show for Cottaging in Philly at Beautiful World Syndicate, and after the show Brian was like, "I wanna play you these songs we recorded." So, he played them for me and they were much different than I thought they would be.
BH: I told you it was straightforward hardcore.
MA: Yeah. I think you may have referenced Poison Idea or something, and I was listening to it and I loved it immediately. I hadn’t fronted a band in a few years and I was immediately interested, and told Brian that if they weren't doing anything with it, I would love to sing over it. It felt necessary at the time to have some sort of outlet.
BH: Honestly, the idea was to just record vocals on it and to see how we felt about it.
MA: Yeah, just as a recorded endeavor. So, Brian sent me the songs and I wrote lyrics and scheduled some time at Dead Air in Western Mass., with Will Killingsworth. The three of us got together there, I recorded the vocals in one day, and we were all pretty happy with the results.
How many shows have you guys played?
BH: Maybe 10.
MA: I think we've played, like, six.
And how does that all work, living in different towns?
TC: We practice a lot between Brian, Drew and me, and then we send songs to Matt, and he's a maniac. Creatively speaking, Matt works really fast and diligently. Very good work ethic. He gets the songs and immediately writes lyrics to them. And then comes to Providence and it fucking gels.
BH: Part of the reason why the chemistry in this band is so on point [is], I feel like Matt is another person who gets this immediacy, that the creative conversation can be so immediate. Which is refreshing.
Knowing that this band started a while ago, and considering your time in the Ukiah Drag — which is totally different style-wise — as well as punk's renewed interest in rock 'n’ roll these days, is there anything you want to say about how this band relates to the other music you've been playing for a while? Do you think this a return to anything?
BH: I wouldn’t say a return. I would say all of us have always loved punk music or things with [a] DIY aesthetic if it's good, but in terms of style ...
TC: I personally have a particular drum style, and I play particularly well when I'm doing shit like this. It's really fun, and it's such a fluid writing process, and honestly, we were just talking about this. And by talking about it, I mean I was shooting my mouth off. I feel in this band such a competitive edge to blow all the mediocre punk bands that we play with off the stage. I'm not even joking about that. I'm not very good at many things in life. That's totally fine. As long as you give me a drum set and I can show my swagger off and do that shit, I love doing that with this band. Going back to the punk aesthetic, it never left; it's always going to be in me because I've been listening to punk music since I was 11 years old, and I don't think that you can really wash that sort of thing off.
BH: It's one of those things where we're active and engaged musicians in general. That this one is more punk is not any more or less reflective or getting back to roots or paying tribute to something. We all had starts when we were teenagers with shit that was really punk, but none of us are limited in that capacity in what we listen to or what we're interested in. It's just another avenue for creative threads that are within all of us.
TC: There's not a lot of interesting stuff out there. It's always been like that. But once you find that band that you really like, you feel fucking inspired. And that happens every so often. It's really cool.
MA: I've always been interested in new music. In general, no matter what sort of sound comes out of it, it's just the urgency that is most inspiring. I feel like that's something that's been lacking, and nothing's really pulled at me in recent years ... when you see certain bands that floor you. I felt somewhat bored, but I treat any project I'm working on as a personal outlet, so it's more just for myself.
BH: I don't generally feel jaded about music. I get excited at the prospect of seeing things that are really cool and really tight. It's happening less and less over the years. I'm trying to think of the last thing that really excited me. It might be punk, it might not be punk.
TC: Topically, it's few and far between.
BH: Yes. With punk shit, the amount that I feel enthralled by someone's performance or recording is slim in recent years.
And what has inspired you in recent years?
TC: I saw Sadicos in Toronto, and it was fucking awesome. Urochromes are really good right now.
BH: Seeing S.H.I.T. for the first time and never having heard them was cool. I felt really psychotic after that.
MA: I'm generally drawn to bands that don't just pump out more of the same. I think there's a lot of that, too.
TC: It's so acceptable in punk these days to reinvent the wheel, and that's totally cool, because everyone's gonna be fucked up anyways or something like that. Punk's somewhat derivative. You can't escape that. I like when people are doing new things with old formulas and not treading water.
BH: I've seen so much that is just treading more of the same.
MA: I think it depends. I'm not usually a fan of a band that may be emulating something, particularly to the point where you can go back and listen to that band. Generally, it works in a live setting, I think it's entertaining, but I don't know. I would rather craft something drawing from various influences and creating something different.
BH: Zero interest in carbon copying something.
TC: I couldn't even do that if I wanted to.
Do you want to tell us about your new record?
TC: Recorded by Ben Greenberg yesterday. It's nine songs, gonna be on 45 rpm 12" on Iron Lung in a couple months.
What was the recording process like?
BH: Quick. Intense.
TC: We only had a day in the studio, so we had to record nine songs in a day. Get the rough mixes together and shit.
BH: Basically delegating nine hours to set up, get sounds, get takes that we wanted and do any light mixing. The songs move quickly, generally.
MA: There's a very raw quality, which I think is nice, but that may be lacking, too, sometimes. Not exactly a raw recording quality, but it is a very urgent recording. It was done quickly. It's more similar to playing a live set than sitting in a studio for a couple weeks or whatever.
BH: It was a quick affair to efficiently and affordably document these eight or nine songs.
Anything else you guys have a burning desire to say into a microphone?
TC: To say to the world? I worked at the American Legion in Tampa for the last couple months. My sister is a bartender there, so I was a bar-back for her. I just wanted to plug American Legion Seminole Post 111.
Did she boss you around?
TC: No, no, it was funny. She’s a loudmouth. She's great. She's sharp as a fucking whip. She's four years older, and she was kind of my caretaker for a few years. She would tell people to get the fuck out because there were a lot of racist drunk assholes who would be around. Going around and speaking the hard “r” and all that lovely stuff. She would tell them to get the fuck out, and I would be the strong-arm. Funnily enough.